England’s trio of Michael Adams, Gawain Jones and Luke McShane were all eliminated in rounds one and two of the $1.6m World Cup in Siberia. This 128-player knock-out qualifies its two finalists for the 2020 candidates which decides the next challenger for Magnus Carlsen’s title.

Adams, the longtime England No1, had most reason to be disappointed. In the Cornishman’s peak years this was one of the competitions where he performed best, and in 2004 when it counted as a world championship he even reached the final.

Now Adams is a veteran of 47, and when his first round match against a 19-year-old Indian, Chithambaram Aravindh, developed into an attritional struggle the writing was on the wall. After seven straight draws, Adams erred fatally in game eight.

McShane’s round two match with the Russian Daniil Yuffa also went to eight games in very different style. The Londoner, whose main career is in the City, was outplayed in the openings but twice came back from the brink. He would have done so a third time if he had noticed Bd4-a7 guarding b8 which White’s d7 knight needed as an escape route.


Tamir Nabaty v Sethuraman Sethuraman, World Cup 2019. The Israeli (White, to move) sacrificed a piece against the Indian so as to drive the black king to the board edge. Nabaty now unleashed a brilliant checkmate, which takes at most five moves with every white move a check. Can you work it out?

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